Sunday, 11 June 2017


With over 300,000 visitors received annually, Waddesdon Manor has won Visit England's Large Visitor Attraction of the Year category just this year. On the day I came, I felt as if I was on a school trip as the buses that took us from the welcome pavilion (as mentioned in my previous post, the Manor sits on a 6,000-acre land, the estate has its own fleet of buses to take the guests to the house and the grounds) were heaving with children. Waddesdon was hosting an event called Colourscape which you can find out more about HERE.

Some of you would probably know that the Rothschilds are European banking dynasty. With the wealth they have amassed over the years, the family had accumulated and commissioned the finest art collection, furniture pieces, textiles, and objects of interest. These have adorned their homes that numbered up to more than 40 all over Europe. Some can be found at Waddesdon Manor, which has been bequeathed to the National Trust in 1957.

My first taste of fascination with interior decoration was in the late 80s when we moved in to our family home that my parents built. My father and mother bought a variety of interior design magazines for inspiration. I remember leafing through them and taking in either the opulence or artistic flair, or both, how the colours are matched and mismatched, and ornaments strategically placed. Those rooms where you feel at home the moment you walk into them? They've captured your personality.

Some homes look like museums, some like garage sales. I like mine to have a random personal touch.

There's nothing arbitrary about the carefully curated collection, some of which are commissioned, at Waddesdon Manor, but these ones are my whimsical picks--the kind I'd purchase if money and space were not constraints.

'Porca Miseria' ('Oh my Goodness' in Italian), is the Waddesdon's approach to contemporary arts and designs. It was commissioned for the Blue Dining Room in 2003, and designed by Ingo Maurer, a German industrial light designer known for his quirky creations. Made of broken porcelain, I thought it resembled a fascinator.

Porcelain model of the nanny goat with suckling kid made in 1732. As sculptors often have trouble keeping sculptures of this size whole in the kiln, there are large cracks in the porcelain. It was made for Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. He established a porcelain factory  at Meissen, near Dresden. It was the first European factory to succeed in making porcelain. This sculpture is located at the Breakfast Room of the Bachelor's Wing. I took a particular interest in this one as I'm a Capricorn which is symbolised by a mountain goat.

Located in the East Gallery is a musical automaton in the shape of an elephant. It plays four different tunes and when wound up, the tail, trunk, and ears move, the flower petals spin, along with other figures. H. Martinet, a French clockmaker, made this in London in 1774. 

This tapestry panel is from the L'Historie du Roi series, designed by Charles Le Brun. Depicted are Juno (Queen of the Gods), Eros (God of Love), Jupiter (King of the Gods), Diana (Goddess of the hunt), and Mars (God of War). The Ancient Greeks called them Hera, Cupid, Zeus, Artemis, and Ares.

To the left is a Reynolds painting from 1774 of Mrs Sheridan as Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Born Elizabeth Linley, she was blessed with a wonderful singing voice. She married the famous playwright, Richard Sheridan. To the right is a Romney portrait of Mrs Jordan, an Irish actress who made her acting debut at Drury Lane Theatre in 1785.

To the left is Lady Emma Hamilton as Calypso. Although married to Sir William Hamilton (the British envoy to the court of Naples), her relationship with Admiral Nelson was more famous. Together, they had a little girl named Horatia. She was apparently renowned for her 'attitudes', which perhaps translates to modern jargon as being a poser.

All of the above portraits of famous women lined the private apartment of Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in the house.

In some homes, this round table laid with a porcelain vase, photo frames, and other ornaments could be the equivalent of a console, sideboard, mantelpiece, or a piano top. It creates a focal point, especially for smaller space.

A carpet pattern in the Baron's room

As someone who loves to write and collect notebooks and journals, it follows that I love desks. The first time I had a desk was when I was around six years old. I like to have all my writing, research, and reference materials all in one place so I do not get interrupted when I write or read. A new desk/work area is currently one of my projects.

Most of the carpets in the house are from the Savonnerie carpet workshops (named as such as the original site was an old soap factory). I'm not fond of busy carpets. But then again, I can't afford them.

A view of the front part of the Manor from one of the winding stairs

Ruby and garnet are two of my favourite shades of red. This late 17th-century ruby glass candlestick was highly prized because of its colour that alchemists found difficult to produce. 

This unglazed porcelain miniature version of Etienne Maurice Falconet's sculpture of Pygmalion and Galatea shows off the whiteness and fine surface of a Sèvres soft-paste biscuit porcelain. Pygmalion, King of Cyprus, fell in love with a figure that he had sculpted. He begged Aphrodite to grant him a woman in that image. That woman became Galatea.

Above is a Florentine hardstone mosaic table. I have seen something similar at The Wallace Collection in London. The materials include lapis lazuli, agate, quartz, amazonite,  and marbles.

A goblet from Germany made of rock crystal, gold, and enamel. It was hollowed out with saws, drills and grinding wheels, emery, and diamonds. The handles alone are exquisite, depicting imaginary creatures with open mouths and fishtails.

A Spanish pendant made of gold, enamel, diamond, emerald, and sapphire. It was originally an aigrette where real plume is tucked, and adorned men's hats in the late 16th century. The transparent and colourless diamonds make the piece dramatic. The point and rose cut diamonds maximise the reflection of light both inside and out.

The Sèvres Rooms are the my most favoured part of the house. Created during the centenary restoration, these occupy Baron Ferdinand's bedroom suite. Sèvres dinner services played an important part of 18th-century court ritual and in diplomatic relations of French kings. During the 19th-century, every Rothschild household had at least one 18th-century Sèvres service for entertaining. Waddesdon has three.

The patterns range from blue florals, cornflowers, roses, and pansies, and birds. Some 235-piece dinner and dessert service were ordered by Marie-Antoinette from Sèvres in 1781.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill was a good friend of the Rothschilds. Some of his letters are on display. In one, he mentioned a political coalition. We probably could use some of his wisdom now.

A forerunner of modern-day toilets. I wouldn't want to be the servant assigned to the task of disposing the contents.

Below is the Armoury Corridor located in the Bachelor's Wing. It was actually Alice de Rothschild who formed the collection of arms and armour and not her older brother, Baron Ferdinand. She organised this to replace the collection of treasures which were bequeathed to the British Museum in 1898. 

If you missed the tour of the some of the rooms, visit WADDESDON MANOR (Part I): THE ROOMS.

We'll be out the marvellous gardens next time!

Waddesdon Manor
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
HP18 0JH

1 comment:

  1. But why is there padding on the loo chair on the top edge? LOL


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